3. Feel-good movies for self-isolation


This is the first of a series of tasks we’ll be posting, intended to be used on online platforms such as Zoom. This first task is a “pyramid discussion” type, suitable for intermediate level and above. 

In the past few days, since the beginning of enforced isolation in many countries, because it has been a sad and disorientating time, there have been some suggestions from streaming services about good movies to watch, generally of the “feel-good” type. As someone who generally doesn’t like this category of movie, I started thinking about which movie I would choose.

(Neil A’s note: hey, nothing wrong with feel-good movies! Also…see my choice in the ecording. I’d say the term is open to interpretation and broader than we perhaps think).

Pre-Task (1)optional

For homework, students remind themselves of the names of some “feel-good” movies, including perhaps some that they haven’t seen – or can’t remember well. They prepare to talk about one movie that they are familiar with for about a minute.

  • Why this movie is a suitable recommendation for these days of self-isolation. Does it have a particular message, or is it memorable for some other reason? Is it just escapist fun?
  • Is it suitable for families, or best watched alone?

NB Note that bulleted instructions like these can be cut and pasted into the Chat Box of your platform.

Pre-Task (2) Students listen to the MP3 of  Neil’s movie selection and his reasons. (See attached file). You could set an evaluative question as they listen: “Is this a movie that you’ve seen – or would like to see based on what he/she says here? Get ready to explain your reasons.” Feedback follows in the main meeting window.

Neil’s choice: Seven Samurai

Main task

  • The scenario is that the students have been employed as a focus group by a movie-streaming service such as Netflix. In breakout rooms, each student presents their idea for inclusion in the “recommended for a day of self-isolation” list. (If you have more time available, and students are movie fans or have done the homework, then they can put forward more than one idea*.) 
  • Respond to the others in your breakout room – ask questions to find out more about the others’ suggestions if these are movies you don’t know.
  • Decide as a group which movie to put forward to the final list. You can only choose one. (*or more – but limit the number). 
  • As a larger group (back in the main meeting) listen to all the pitches and decide whether or not to include these suggestions in the final list.

Language: sentence heads

I’ve watched this loads / This movie always makes me feel X / I always come back to this one because /

 I love the way / I love the part where…. / The best bit is where + S + V

Lexis (films): Soundtrack, acting, cast, plot.  It stars______ It’s from (the 90s)

Genres – romantic comedy, based on a true story

Adjectives:  Funny, moving, heartwarming, unpredictable 

For the message: This film is all about the power of love, the value of friendship / 

reminds us of what’s really important in life / that you can overcome the obstacles, begin again / not to take things too seriously / what you can achieve if you put your mind to it


This can easily be adapted for other media. For example, students could co-operate to make a Spotify playlist of songs for self-isolation. They can pick a particular mood e.g. calming, cheerful or even bleak and futuristic, if that’s the way they want to go. In each case, they should briefly explain the reasons for your choice. 

NB The language needed for this variation will be more abstract as it’s generally harder to talk about music. 

e.g. This track evokes / makes me think of / reminds me of / has a _______ atmosphere

2 thoughts on “3. Feel-good movies for self-isolation

  1. Pingback: Teaching online – week four – The TEFL Zone

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